Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead up through the episode "The Lost and the Plunderers."
After the bloody events of "The Lost and the Plunderers," one might think that Simon has signed his own death warrant, since he shat on Negan's orders by euthanizing Jadis' entire junkyard community. Things will definitely heat up among the Saviors' upper management, but Simon has apparently and surprisingly taken a (currently unmentioned) interest in another major character: Father Gabriel. Actor Steven Ogg spoke with CinemaBlend ahead of The Walking Dead's latest episode, and when I asked if Simon will be involved when Gabriel's story is revisited, here's what he told me.
That's the biggest and funnest thing is to interact with some of these other people, some of these other characters. And certainly when Father Gabriel was brought in and they're all standing in that hallway, and he sees him, I think Simon's a little more interested in him than when Eugene came, and Simon was quite skeptical of that guy. Whereas I think with Father Gabriel, Simon's a little more curious. Who is this priest fellow? . . . It just seems like, there's a whole thing with Eugene, who seemed a little buddy-buddy, which I think rubbed Simon wrong. Whereas with Father Gabriel, he doesn't seem so buddy-buddy. So he's less questionable of him, or less mistrusting of him.
I don't know about you guys, but to me, Simon is one of the least likely characters who'd develop an interest with a man of the cloth. I mean, his mustache is worthy of idol worship, sure, but he certainly doesn't embody the tenets of any virtuous religious faith. But then, Steven Ogg didn't say that Simon is specifically interested in getting Father Gabriel's take on what Jesus would do. He's generally more interested in who Father Gabriel is as a person, as far as the kind of man it takes to enter the priesthood: one who is loyal, honest, trustworthy, and steadfast. Half of those traits are important to the Savior way of life.
On the flip side, there's Eugene, who came into the Sanctuary as a hostage who rather quickly acclimated himself to Negan's rules, and it was his knowledge and quick-thinking that got him into the inner circle. Simon doesn't share Eugene's distinct smarts, but he's by no means an idiot, which makes him rightfully suspicious of the way the stressed-out redneck has carried himself since he was taken from Alexandria. Father Gabriel clearly opposes Negan's methods, but he's not one to physically rebel, which offers little room for any secretive pretext. Meanwhile, Eugene is a Yes Man on all fronts, which casts doubt on all of his motivations. One of those personalities obviously fits Simon's best interests far better than the other., even if the flu-esque Father Gabriel might be clandestinely heading to the Hilltop Colony soon.
I'd also asked Steven Ogg about how Simon's relationship with Negan will develop (or crumble) as the season goes on, and his answer was pretty vague, to be expected. But it's still telling, considering we know only bad things can come from Simon and his junkyard-massacre crew lying to Negan about how that "warning" meeting went. In Ogg's words:
There's definitely different opinions. Which, in that boardroom meeting, we start to see a little bit of Simon not necessarily agreeing with Negan, and Negan wondering why Simon is being such a pain in the ass. We're gonna see that, within this community, there's certainly difference of opinion as to how things are gonna be handled. So, you know, with that there could be some civil discourse, if you will. 'You think this, I think that. I don't agree with what you're doing.'
Steven Ogg definitely enjoys Simon's role as a TV-only character, but that distinction means there's no clear path for where his story might be going in the near future. It's easy to enjoy that aspect of his role in the show, though the downside is that he could get taken out at a moment's notice without any clear build-up. I've got lots of mental investment in Simon being the final survivor on The Walking Dead, so hopefully he can use his interest in Father Gabriel to give himself a leg up in staying alive.
Will we get to see Father Gabriel return next week, possibly with Simon giving him sweet eyes from across the room? Probably not that exact scenario. But keep watching every Sunday night on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. Check out what else Steven Ogg told us about the rest of the season, and then head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what other shows are getting set for primetime soon.